Day 285: Nepal by foot

A long hike, an irritable period of sickness and a broken keyboard have prevented me from updating this blog for a while. However I felt like I could not leave you without a short Christmas post.

After my rafting adventure I headed to Pokhara, the trekking starting point for whoever wants to hike around, through or over the Annapurnas. After a long doubt about which trek to do – the costly Nar-Phu trek or the Annapurna Circuit for which I came to Nepal – I decided to go for the latter. A short shopping spree later, I collected my gear and was ready to set off.

The circuit

Altitude profile

On the bus to Besishahar I met Travis, this avid outdoors American who worked for a national park before leaving on this trip would be my hiking buddy for the trip. Not only had we planned a similar itinerary, he had just finished the treks to Everest and Annapurna Base Camp and thus had all the experience I might have lacked. You can read how he experienced the trek here.

Travis and Eva

On day two I ran in to Eva. It turned out that she had studied at Olomouc University where I had done my Erasmus studies. Since she was one of the few other people who was trekking without a guide as well, she decided to team up with us as well. This resulted in a great triple who would stick together for the rest of the trek. We were like-minded enough to get along, but our backgrounds were diversified enough to guarantee interesting conversations.

The Annapurna Circuit is the mother of all teahouse trekkings. This makes the whole experience a lot more enjoyable compared to the camping trekkings I had done before. During the day we would pass through little villages every two hours or so where we had the possibility to drink some tea or have lunch. At night we would stop at one of the villages and look for accommodation for that night. If lucky we could take a hot shower, before gathering in the dining area where dal bhat would be the best option for calorie per rupee intake. Once we got higher up there would be a stove burning wood or yak dung where everybody would gather around to warm themselves. At night we would ask for an extra blanket to keep us warm while we drifted away for a night of vivid dreaming. This meant that we could do all this walking without need for tent or cooking gear, a welcome saving for our loaded backs.

During the following 14 days of trekking we would settle in a slightly fixed regime. We would meet up early in the morning for breakfast, which mainly consisted out of big pots of tea and steaming hot porridge to get us going. When the first beams of sunlight would be shining on the mountain tops, we would pack our bags, settle our bills and start of in a dispersed order. Everybody would be going at his own pace through the glorious scenery that the Himalayas provided. We might meet up along the way to chat or have lunch together, but most of the time we would spent alone letting our thoughts wander alongside us. At night we would meet up in the little village we had planned for that morning and would spent the evening chatting away or reading a book.

I had picked up ‘Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance‘ in one of the teahouses along the way and spent several nights struggling through this iconic book. The night before tackling the high pass, I read the following passage that I found to be extremely truthful and would’t want to withhold from you:

Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion. Then, when you’re no longer thinking ahead, each footstep isn’t just a means to an end but a unique event in itself. This leaf has jagged edges. This rock looks loose. From this place the snow is less visible, even though closer. These are things you should notice anyway. To live only for some future goal is shallow. It’s the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top. Here’s where things grow. –ROBERT PIRSIG, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

I could stop with this remarkable quote but there are some highlights of the trek that I would still like to mention:

The abundance of animals along the trek. From water buffaloes and langur monkeys in the tropical valleys to yaks and blue sheep high in the mountains.

Gliding away on Ice Lake at 4600 metres while some yaks were looking weary at us acting foolishly.

Our superb sidetrip to Tilicho Lake, one of the highest in the world at 4919 metres. It's here that I decided to go for a swim while it was minus 10 degrees outside. My towel froze up the second I was finished using it.

The medieval villages along the way that surprised you every time you stumbled upon one.

The endless rows of prayer walls, prayer rolls and prayer flags along the way. I was humming 'Om mani padme hum' every time I passed one of them.

The satisfaction of making it to and across Thorung La pass, at 5416 metres one of the highest trekking passes in the world.

More pictures you can find here and here.

Wish you all a very merry Christmas and a festive New Year.

It’s at time like these that I miss being home the most, but luckily I’m very much looking forward at traveling with my sister in the coming two weeks.



5 thoughts on “Day 285: Nepal by foot

  1. Pingback: Day 285: Nepal by foot « Travelling around the world | Today Headlines

  2. Hallo David,

    Prettige Kerst vanuit het koude Wevelgem. Hier amper -1°. Uw mama en papa zijn hier nog steeds Kerst aan ‘t vieren; Juist niet bij Mie en Tim, aangezien Tim eergisteren werd geopereerd en waarbij zijn milt ( 5kg) werd verwijderd. Mama al twee uur aan ‘t zeggen om naar huiis te gaan. ‘t Moment dat ze beslist om te vertrekken, vraagt uw pa nog een pintje; ‘ een gekende situatie hé) .
    Hier alles ok, hou je haaks en de groeten aan je zus . Ciaoooooooooooooo

    Nonkel Pascal

    • Hallo David,
      Onze beste wensen voor 2011 en vooral een goeie gezondheid.
      Hou je goed!!!
      Hartelijke groetjes vanuit het verre vaderland.
      Je buren,
      Marcel & Simonne

  3. Pingback: Now is a good time for you to explore. Take a vacation… | Traveling around the world

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